US legislators join Hobby Lobby in challenge to contraception mandate

[JURIST] A group of nine senators and two representatives joined to file an amicus brief [text, PDF] Tuesday in support of Hobby Lobby, Inc. and Mardel Inc. [corporate websites] in their ongoing court battle against being compelled to provide employees with coverage for contraceptives under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) [text; JURIST backgrounder]. The businesses, both owned by the Christian Green family, are claiming that enforcement of the PPACA requires the corporation to sacrifice its religious freedoms by being forced to give money to employees health plans which provide for emergency contraception which the companies view as an abortive procedure. The brief filed by the legislators claim that enforcement of the PPACA is contrary to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 [text, PDF] and that people and corporations religious freedoms should trump provisions of the healthcare law which question those beliefs.

Tuesday's amicus brief is the most recent development in the challenge of the Green family in its fight against the PPACA. Last December the US Supreme Court [official website] said it would not intervene [JURIST report] in issuing an injunction while an appeal was still pending with the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit [official website], the Greens have said they will not comply [JURIST report] with the mandate even without a protective injunction. Justice Sonya Sotomayor ruled that the Oklahoma City family's religiously oriented business did not meet the requirements to allow an injunction against the PPACA's mandate. The opinion stated that the Hobby Lobby family did not meet the standard of showing that they have an "indisputably clear" legal right to an injunction while appeal is pending. The organizations are appealing an order by the US District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma that ruled [opinion, PDF] that despite the family's religious values, the businesses do not qualify for an injunction. "However, Hobby Lobby and Mardel are not religious organizations. Plaintiffs have not cited, and the court has not found, any case concluding that secular, for-profit corporations such as Hobby Lobby and Mardel have a constitutional right to the free exercise of religion."

 

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